Report of Maj. Gen. William B. Bate, C. S. Army,
The Battle of Nashville
HEADQUARTERS BATE'S DIVISION,
Tupelo, Miss., January 25, 1865.
Maj. JAMES D. PORTER,
MAJOR: In obedience to orders from corps headquarters, I have the honor most respectfully to forward this report of the operations of my command in the late Tennessee campaign.
I left Florence, Ala., on the 21st of November with my command, moving with its corps, via Waynesborough and Mount Pleasant, to near Columbia, Tenn., and went into bivouac on the 26th day of November, on the Shelbyville turnpike. The succeeding day and night was followed with slight skirmishing on the line around Columbia.
At daylight on the morning of the 29th I moved to Duck River, four miles above Columbia, and crossed on the pontoon bridge at 7.30 o'clock, which was as soon as I could do so, having to wait for General Cleburne's division, which had the advance. I moved that day in rear of that division to the neighborhood of Spring Hill, a distance of twelve miles. After moving rapidly for several miles and wading the creek I deployed my division in line of battle, in obedience to orders from General Cheatham to form and move on Cleburne's left, Jackson on the right, and Smith in echelon on the left of front line, Col. R. Bullock, commanding the Florida brigade, supporting the left. Not seeing General Cheatham at the moment of forming my line of battle, General Hood, who was personally present, directed me to move to the turnpike and sweep toward Columbia. General Cleburne, being in advance, formed and moved forward before it was possible for me to do so, and changed front without stopping and without my knowing the fact, owing to intervening hills obstructing the view. As soon as ascertained I conformed to the movement as well as I could and pushed forward in the direction of the enemy, who held the turnpike. It was now getting dark, and I had moved more than a mile in line of battle. Cleburne had been engaged; with what success I did not know. Procuring a guide, learning the exact locality of the enemy and the general direction of the turnpike, I changed direction to the right again, and was moving so as to strike the turnpike to the right of Maj. Nat. Cheer's residence, which I believed would bring me near Cleburne's left; Caswell's battalion of sharpshooters, deployed as skirmishers, was within 100 yards of and commanded the turnpike, checking the enemy's movement along it in my front, and my lines were being adjusted for a further forward movement, when I received an order, through Lieutenant Schell, from General Cheatham to halt and join my right to General Cleburne's left. My main line was within 200 yards of the turnpike when Major Caswell's battalion fired into the enemy on the pike. He (the enemy) veered to his left, as I subsequently ascertained, and took a road leaving the pike near Doctor McKessick's. I obeyed the order of General Cheatham, and with delay and difficulty, it being in the night and near the enemy, I ascertained the left of Cleburne's line, which had retired some distance to the rear of my right. I made known to General Cheatham the fact of the enemy threatening my left, and called for force to protect it. My left brigade was retired to confront any movement from that direction, and during the night (perhaps 10 o'clock) General Johnson's division, of Lee's corps, was moved to my left. My command so disposed as to be an extension of Cleburne's line, with its left retired, I bivouacked between 9 and 10 o'clock for the night. At daylight there was no enemy in my front.
Early on the morning of the 30th of November I was ordered to follow Cleburne and bring up the rear of Cheatham's corps. In pursuance thereof I moved down the Franklin turnpike to the rear of Winstead's Hill, three miles from Franklin, where our forces were being deployed and lines formed. About 3 o'clock in the evening I was ordered by General Cheatham to move my command by the left flank, pass a gap in the ridge to the left, circle around a mound which rose in the plain below, and move toward the Carter Creek turnpike, until, in a direct advance on the town of Franklin, my left would strike the house of Mrs. Rebecca Bostick. I lost no time in starting and moved rapidly. This gave me the arc, while the divisions on my right moved on the chord of the circle. I was informed that General Chalmers' cavalry was ordered to form and advance in conjunction with me on my left. My line was formed with Jackson's brigade and Tyler's, commanded by Brig. Gen. T. B. Smith, in the front, the former on the right, and Finley's brigade, commanded by Col. Robert Bullock, supporting. Major Caswell had charge of the skirmish line in front. With these dispositions I moved forward through the open plain in good order. My skirmish line drove back that of the enemy, which was located on a line with Mrs. Bostick's house. The center of my line swept by this house, my left, which I had extended, reaching near the Carter Creek turnpike. The line moved steadily on, not waiting for the cavalry, driving the enemy from his outer works, which covered the right but not the left of my line. The cavalry (dismounted) not touching my left, nor being on a line with it, exposed that flank to a furious fire. I moved the Florida brigade to the left and advanced it, two regiments extending beyond the left of the turnpike. My line, now a single one without support, charged the works of the enemy. My right got to the works (the second line) and remained there until morning; the left was driven back. The enemy's [works] were strong and defiant, constructed on a slight elevation, with few obstructions in front for several hundred yards. The works to the left of Carter Creek turnpike were not strong, and with a vigorous assault should have been carried; a fact, however, not known until next day. A battery was located just to the right of this turnpike, which kept up the fire until late at night. The left of my line was reformed on the branch between the works of the enemy and Mrs. Bostick's house, but not in sufficient numbers to justify another effort to carry the works, as the command on my left had not come up. A battery, under the conduct of Colonel Presstman, participated most gallantly in the fight, first occupying a position near the house of Mrs. Bostick, and then was run up the turnpike close to the enemy's works and engaged that battery of the enemy on our immediate front. Many of our men who had gone into the interior works held their positions until morning, when the enemy had evacuated the town. General Ed. Johnson's division came in my rear just after dark, passing over that part of my line which had been reformed near the branch fronting Mrs. Bostick's.
My loss in this engagement was 47 killed, 253 wounded, and 19 missing. Among the killed was Colonel Smith, of the First [Georgia] Confederate Regiment, Jackson's brigade, who fell most gallantly while putting his regiment into the interior works of the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton was badly wounded while pressing forward in handsome style. Lieutenant-Colonel Badger, commanding First [Florida (dismounted) Cavalry] and Fourth Florida Regiments was wounded three times before he left the field. Captain Carter, on staff duty with Tyler's brigade, fell mortally wounded near the works of the enemy and almost at the door of his father's house. His gallantry I witnessed with much pride, as I had done on other fields, and here take pleasure in mentioning it especially.
OPERATIONS AROUND MURFREESBOROUGH.
On the morning of the 2d of December, as my command was moving from Franklin, Tenn., in the direction of Nashville, I received the following order, made official and inclosed to me by Major-General Cheatham, commanding corps:
Near Franklin, December 2, 1864--7 a.m.
General Hood directs that you will send Bate's division, with one battery of artillery, over to Murfreesborough, and direct them to destroy the railroad from Murfreesborough to Nashville, burning all the bridges and taking the block-houses and then burning them.
A. P. MASON,
Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.
Col. B. J. Hill was ordered to co-operate with me, who had about 150 cavalry. My command consisted of Jackson's, Tyler's (commanded by Brig. Gen. T. B. Smith) and Finley's brigades (commanded by Col. Robert Bullock), and Slocomb's battery (commanded by Lieutenant Chalaron), all not exceeding in number 1,600 men. I moved my command on the direct road from Franklin to Triune, thence on the Nolensville turnpike to the most practicable road leading across the country to the terminus of the Wilkinson turnpike, some seven miles from Murfreesborough. I learned here that Murfreesborough, instead of being evacuated, as was supposed and as the nature of my order led me to believe, was occupied by a strong force, estimated from 6,000 to 10,000, commanded by Major-General Rousseau, which fact I reported to army headquarters on the morning of the 4th. I received that night the following communication from General Hood:
Overton's House, Six Miles from Nashville, December 2, 1864.
GENERAL: General Hood directs me to say that citizens report some 5,000 Yankees at Murfreesborough. General Forrest will send some of his cavalry to assist you. You must act according to your judgment under the circumstances, keeping in view the object of your expedition, viz, to destroy the railroad. This report is sent you for what it is worth.
A. P. MASON,
Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.
At 7 a.m. I moved my command by the left flank diagonally across the country from the Wilkinson to the Nashville and Murfreesborough turnpike, striking the latter on the Nashville side of Overall's Creek, five miles and a half from Murfreesborough. The object of going to Overall's Creek was to get between the enemy and Nashville, that I might not be cut off by his superior force, and if pressed, could fall back to the main army. It also put me in position to execute the order which I was cautioned by General Hood to keep in view, viz, "to destroy the railroad." This position also made my force a protection to the right wing of the army. Colonel Hill's command was ordered to close in as near as possible and demonstrate on the Salem and Wilkinson turnpikes, and to keep me posted by scouting on my flanks and front. I here drove in the enemy's scouts and placed three regiments of the Florida brigade, commanded by Col. Robert Bullock (the Sixth Florida being detached, under Colonel Kenan, guarding the wagon train), near the bank of the creek in observation, and to protect Chalaron's battery should occasion require, which was ordered to open on the block-house just across the creek, guarding the railroad bridge. Tyler's brigade (General T. B. Smith commanding) was held in reserve; Jackson's was immediately put to destroying the railroad. About noon the enemy appeared on the opposite side of the creek, but was dispersed two or three times by a few well-directed shots from the artillery. He returned in the evening, re-enforced by infantry and artillery. He moved a skirmish line down near the creek, as if to prevent our crossing, and about sundown turned my left flank with his cavalry and charged my battery. It was anticipated, however, and Tyler's brigade brought to its support in time to repulse it, in conjunction with the battery, which fired double charges into his lines, not fifty yards distant, scattering them in all directions and securing fifteen or twenty of their horses. Meanwhile the infantry attacked the three regiments of the Florida brigade with vastly superior numbers, wounding Colonel Bullock and driving his command back from the creek. Jackson's brigade was promptly thrown forward to meet this advance, and with one volley repulsed and drove his infantry across the creek. I threw out skirmishers to the bank of the creek and held the field.
Slocomb's battery, under command of Lieutenant Chalaron, acted with conspicuous and most effective gallantry.
Col. Ed. Dillon reported with the squadron of cavalry just before night---too late to take part in the fight. I certainly did not suppose this was all the support I was to get from General Forrest, mentioned in the before-quoted order. I ordered him to relieve the infantry pickets at 10 o'clock, at which hour I withdrew my infantry and artillery across Stewart's Creek, fearing the enemy might get on my flank or rear with his superior numbers during the night, and also to begin operations on the road early next morning.
In the fight my losses were 15 killed, 59 wounded (Colonel Bullock, commanding the Florida brigade, among the latter), and 13 missing. I have every reason to believe that the losses of the enemy were much greater. We buried some of his dead which he left when driven from the field.
Early on the morning of the 5th dispositions were made to take the block-houses at Stewart's Creek, Read's Branch, and Smyrna, which, as we moved upon them, the enemy precipitately evacuated. Each of these were burned after removing the stores; also the bridges they were intended to guard, and several miles of the railroad destroyed. While these operations were going on General Forrest arrived with two divisions of cavalry, followed by two infantry brigades (Sears', of French's, and Palmer's, of Stevenson's division), with artillery, and, by virtue of rank, assumed command of the forces near Murfreesborough. The order to keep in view the object of my mission, viz, "to destroy the railroad," seemed to be revoked, and offensive operations against Murfreesborough assumed, which did not accord with my judgment, as I was satisfied there were 8,000 or 10,000 Federals within, strongly fortified and with a large amount of artillery in position. Not deeming it prudent to attack such works manned with twice our numbers, I, however, readily gave cheerful co-operation. By command of General Forrest I ceased operations on the railroad and moved back toward Murfreesborough. On the 6th I closed in my lines and pressed forward skirmishers as near to the works around Murfreesborough as practicable, in doing which I lost sixteen men from Caswell's battalion of sharpshooters. I dug pits for skirmishers and built defenses for my main line.
I was ordered by General Forrest to move my entire command at daylight on the 7th to the Wilkinson and my wagon train to the Salem turnpike, which was done. My command was ordered to be an extension of the right of Colonel Palmer's brigade, which occupied a hill fronting the fort and works of the enemy located on the west bank of Stone's River. While the order was being executed the enemy was observed to be moving a force across Stone's River above the town of Murfreesborough and down the Salem turnpike. At this juncture I was ordered by General Forrest to make dispositions to move, in conjunction with Colonel Palmer, on the works of the enemy, which, however, was revoked by ordering me to take charge of infantry and put it into position near where the Wilkinson turnpike crosses Overall's Creek, which I proceeded to do, under the personal direction of General Forrest. The main line was established on the southwest side of the turnpike, diagonally to but not crossing it any point, with the right towards the creek, in the following order by brigades, beginning on the right: Sears', Palmer's, Finley's. Jackson's and Tyler's brigades were placed by me in reserve across the turnpike from main line. Temporary works were constructed of rails and logs. The artillery was placed at the most eligible and advantageous points. While temporary works were being built of rails and logs the enemy presented himself in our front, but was speedily driven out of view by our artillery. I was ordered by General Forrest to put my entire command in the main line. Jackson was then ordered to the left of Finley's brigade, Sears brought from the right to the left in prolongation of and retiring main line toward the turnpike. He soon presented himself again, turning our left flank and advancing diagonally to it. General Forrest ordered the whole line by the left flank. The extent of the enemy's line was not visible. Sears leading and Jackson following, under my order, moved too far to the left; the Florida and Palmer's brigades were halted in the temporary works just vacated by these two. Smith was immediately brought in between them at right angles with the turnpike and in full front of the enemy, who was within 200 yards, driving in our skirmishers, the cavalry on the left having fallen back with but slight resistance. The time of the reappearance of the enemy emerging from the woods, when he was thought to have retired to Murfreesborough (no information being received by me from the cavalry in my front), did not admit of sufficient time to adjust the line before he was upon us, hence there was a space of perhaps 75 or 100 yards between Smith's right and Finley's left. Jackson and Sears were immediately ordered to move, under the conduct of a staff officer, Major Shaaff, by the right flank and align on Smith's left, who was now engaged with the main line of the enemy. The enemy's line came diagonally from the left and struck Finley's and Palmer's brigades, crumbling and driving them from the temporary works. Meanwhile Smith's (Tyler's) and the right of Jackson's brigade, which was getting in position, drove back in gallant style the right of the enemy's line which confronted them. I did not again see the Florida and Palmer's nor Sears' brigade until night, they being under the immediate conduct of General Forrest. I remained in person with Smith's and Jackson's brigades. The enemy occupied the line vacated by Finley's and Palmer's brigades on Smith's flank, but did not push up vigorously. I changed front to rear on my left battalion and formed line in the woods parallel to and near the turnpike, where I remained without molestation until ordered by General Forrest to move across the creek and join him (who was then with cavalry, artillery, and Sears', Palmer's, and Finley's brigades), which I did leisurely, moving off the two remaining brigades by the flank. If the cavalry on either flank was seriously engaged, I was not aware of it.
In this day's fight there were 19 killed, 73 wounded, and 122 missing. Among the former was Lieutenant-Colonel Billopp [Twenty-ninth] Georgia Regiment, who fell gallantly at his post.
I have to regret the loss of two of the guns of that gallant battery, Slocomb's, commanded by Lieutenant Chalaron. The horses being killed, they could not be brought off.
After crossing the creek, about sundown, Smith's brigade was placed in position to resist in case of pursuit, and brought up the rear In good order to the bivouac on the Nashville turnpike.
Next day we engaged again in the destruction of the railroad; but little progress was made, in consequence of the extreme bad weather; the snow fell rapidly and the ground was freezing. In consequence of the recent marches many of the men were barefooted; all were shod, however, when we left Florence. I pressed every pair of shoes which could be found for them, and in many instances the citizens gave them second-hand shoes, which but partially supplied the demand. The country afforded us superabundance of rations. While in this neighborhood I put in operation several mills for the use of the army.
Major-General Forrest gave me an intimation of a probable attack on the main army in front of Nashville, and directed that I be ready to move at short notice. I soon thereafter received an order to move to the right flank of the Army of Tennessee, held by General Cheatham, to take part in the anticipated operations there. The sleet and severe freezes had made the surface of the earth a sheet of ice. Nearly one-fourth of the men were still barefooted, yet plodded "their weary way" under these adverse circumstance (many with bleeding feet), and arrived in good time to the position assigned in Cheatham's corps. I was contiguous to and on the left of the Nolensville turnpike, at a point known as Rains' Hill. I remained here in the intrenched line, with the men uncomfortable from the extreme cold and the scarcity of wood, until the evening of the 15th, when I was ordered by General Cheatham to move to the left, where the fighting was going on, and should he not be there to report to General Hood. When I passed the Franklin turnpike streams of stragglers, and artillerists, and horses, without guns or caissons, the sure indicia of defeat, came hurriedly from the left. I formed my division for battle at once, its right resting near the turnpike, and communicated the situation to General Cheatham, who meantime had come up. It was nearly dark. I received an order from General Hood to move straight forward and take a skirt of woods beyond the field, in the rear of which I had formed my line, and near which the firing was going on. I did so, and made known that fact to my corps commander, and awaited orders. The firing had now slackened. About 8 o'clock Major-General Cheatham came to me and took me with him to find the line I was to occupy. He informed me that he was directed by the general commanding to extend a line of battle from the apex of the hill (now known as Shy's Hill) occupied by Ector's brigade in direction of Mrs. Bradford's house, on the Granny White turnpike, so that a prolongation of the same would strike the line then occupied by General Stewart. We went together and found General Sharp's brigade on left of that corps, in the rear of Mrs. Bradford's house, somewhat parallel to the turnpike, its right resting near the woods, in which we were informed the balance of that corps was. A fire was kindled, by General Cheatham's order, to indicate the direction of my line from the, given point on the left. I moved my command in the position indicated, but with much delay, attributable to the darkness of the night and marshy fields through which I had to pass. The artillery I was unable to get up. The field intervening the turnpike and my position was impassable to artillery; the earth had thawed, and the cultivated low ground was an obstruction through which even the ambulances could not pass with success; hence the artillery was left in the rear for the night. Having a personal interview with Colonel Coleman, commanding Ector's brigade, and agreeing upon the point where the right of his line rested, I adjusted mine, as ordered, between that and the point designated on General Sharp's line, taking such advantage of the ground in its exact locality as I could in the night. My left then rested near the crown on that slope of the hill, facing the turnpike, and my right in the corn-field, advanced toward Nashville, hence not quite at right angles with the turnpike. Seeing that my line at its junction with Coleman's made a right angle, and the enemy already immediately under the brow of the hill annoying me with sharpshooters, within 100 yards, and my right unconnected with any one, I went in person to my corps commander and remonstrated as to the position of my line. He informed me he was not authorized to change it, and that General Stewart was to connect with my right. I at once put the men to making defenses with such tools as I had. They worked with alacrity the balance of the night (nearly all the while under my immediate supervision), and constructed works along my entire front impervious to ordinary shots.
Daylight [16th] revealed the fact that Stewart's corps had been moved back several hundred yards from the point toward which I was directed to extend my right. His two left divisions were retired in echelon from my right, Walthall's on the same side of the turnpike with me, and Loring's behind the rock wall on the opposite side of the turnpike, in echelon to him. Ector's brigade was on my left, occupying that side of the angle. It was prolonged in same direction by Lowrey's (Cheatham's) division. My line was formed with Jackson's brigade on the right, then Finley's and Tyler's in succession, with no support. The hill on which my left rested was confronted by a similar one within 400 yards and an open field in the intervening valley. On this hill the enemy had planted several rifle pieces during the night. There was a deflection on the left of this, and then a series of hills occupied by the enemy extending to its left and culminating opposite Lowrey's left in an irregular range and greater altitude than those held by us, surmounted here and there by a commanding peak. This range of hills, from the point where Lowrey's left rested, extended at right angles across the Granny White turnpike, almost parallel to and in rear of my line of battle, a distance of not more than 600 yards, with open fields between. At daylight I found a road skirting the inner border of the hills on my left over which artillery could pass, but not without difficulty. I ordered Captain Beauregard to send a section of howitzers and place them upon a small plateau making out from the declivity of the hill just in rear of Finley's brigade, from which they could sweep the front of my right and the entire line of General Walthall. A desultory fire by sharpshooters was kept up during the night and morning until about 8 o'clock, when the enemy began to deploy additional masses, advanced his lines into the woods held by Stewart's corps the night previous, where he soon planted batteries. He made a feeble charge along my front and was quickly repulsed. About this time Ector's brigade was taken out of the line and put in reserve, and I was ordered to extend to the left. This not only gave me an additional ground to occupy, but necessarily thinned my lines, as I had no reserves. The line established by Ector's brigade had been located in the darkness of the night, and was, unfortunately, placed back from the brow of the hill, not giving a view and range on the front of more than from five to twenty yards, and the curvature of the hill, as well as the gradual recession of the lines from the angle, forbid any flank fire giving protection to the front of the angle. The works were flimsy, only intended to protect against small-arms, and had no abatis or other obstruction to impede the movements of an assaulting party. From the hour this became a part of my line it was impossible to remedy it. The constant fire of sharpshooters from the neighboring hills made it fatal to attempt a work in front. To advance my line and attack the enemy was the only way to relieve the situation, and to do that was to attack a re-entering angle of breastworks, which, of course, could not be done unless the whole line moved. The enemy opened a most terrific fire of artillery, and kept it up during the day. In the afternoon he planted a battery in the woods in the rear of Mrs. Bradford's house and fired directly across both lines composing the angle; threw shells directly in the back of my left brigade; also placed a battery on a hill diagonally to my left, which took my first brigade in reverse. The batteries on the hill in its front, not more than 300 yards distant, that had borne the concentrated fire of my Whitworth rifles all day, must have suffered heavily, but were not silenced. These rifled guns of the enemy being so close razeed the works on the left of the angle for fifty or sixty yards. Ector's brigade was withdrawn from its supporting position in rear of the angle, and left me without any support whatever, at which transfer I remonstrated. The enemy was in two lines in my front, and in the afternoon moved by his right flank from direction of the Granny White turnpike, and massed by advancing a skirmish line at a time under the brow of the hill near the angle. I made this known to General Cheatham by a staff officer (Lieutenant Rogan), and asked for re-enforcement. The general informed me that he had nothing that could possibly be spared, and desired me to extend still farther to the left, as he had to withdraw strength from his front to protect his left, which had been turned. About this time the brigade on the extreme left of our infantry line of battle was driven back, down the hill into the field in my rear, and the balls of the enemy were fired into the backs of(killing and wounding) my men. The lines on the left (as you go into Nashville) of the Granny White pike at this juncture were the three sides of a square, the enemy shooting across the two parallel lines. My men were falling fast. I saw and fully appreciated the emergency, and passed in person along the trenches in the angle built by Ector's brigade, where I had placed troops who I knew to be unsurpassed for gallantry and endurance, and encouraged them to maintain their places. The men saw the brigade on the left of our line of battle give way and the enemy take its place on the hills in my rear, yet they stood firm and received the fire from three directions with coolness and courage. Anticipating a disaster I ordered Captain Beauregard, who commanded my artillery, to move his battalion back to the Franklin turnpike, as the enemy already had the Granny White pike in our rear, which was my channel for escape, as per order in the forenoon. About 4 p.m. the enemy with heavy force assaulted the line near the angle, and carried it at that point where Ector's brigade had built the light works, which were back from the brow of the hill and without obstructions; not, however, until the gallant and obstinate Colonel Shy and nearly half of his brave men had fallen, together with the largest part of the three right companies of the Thirty-seventh Georgia, which regiment constituted my extreme left. When the breach was made, this command--the consolidated fragments of the Second, Tenth, Fifteenth, Twentieth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-seventh Tennessee Regiments--still contested the ground, under Major Lucas, and, finally, when overwhelming numbers pressed them back, only sixty-five of the command escaped, and they not as a command, but individuals. The command was nearly annihilated, as the official reports of casualties show. Whether the yielding of gallant and well-tried troops to such pressure is reprehensible or not, is for a brave and generous country to decide. The breach once made, the lines lifted from either side as far as I could see almost instantly and fled in confusion. Two regiments, the Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Georgia, then my extreme right, commanded by Colonel Mitchell (Jackson's brigade), and adjoining Walthall's division, did not break, but remained fighting until surrounded. The section of artillery under Lieutenant Alston was turned on the enemy and fired after being completely flanked and our lines vanishing. I mention it in compliment to this gallant lieutenant. I first sought to rally the men and form line in the wooded bottom in rear of Strahl's brigade, Lowrey's right, but found it yielding to the example on its right (there being no pressure of consequence either on its front or that of my extreme left), and hence it was impossible to do so. I was then directed by General Cheatham to form a line at Lea's house, on opposite side of Granny White turnpike, but found on getting there that our lines on that flank had also given way, and the enemy already commanding it with his small-arms. The men then, one by one, climbed over the rugged hills in our rear and passed down a short valley which debouched into the Franklin turnpike. The whole army on this thoroughfare seemed to be one heterogeneous mass, and moving back without organization or government. Strenuous efforts were made by officers of all grades to rally and form line of battle, but in vain. The disorganized masses swept in confusion down the Franklin turnpike, amid the approaching darkness and drenching rain, until beyond Brentwood, when the fragments of commands were, in some measure, united, and bivouacked in groups for the night.
At daylight [17th] I moved my command across Harpeth River, through Franklin, to Spring Hill, and next day crossed Rutherford's Creek, formed line of battle, and bivouacked for the night.
The enemy's advance appearing on the morning of the 19th slight skirmishing ensued. I retired with my command, in conjunction with Cheatham's corps, across Duck River, at Columbia, that evening. My division moved without separation from its corps and crossed the Tennessee River, at Bainbridge, on the evening of the 25th of December.
To my senior brigade commander, General H. R. Jackson, I am especially indebted, not only for the prompt and willing execution of orders, but for many practical suggestions based upon his large experience, for his conspicuous gallantry and resistless energy. General T. B. Smith, commanding Tyler's brigade, and Col. Robert Bullock (Finley's), bore themselves with heroic courage both through good and evil fortune, always executing orders with zeal and alacrity, and bearing themselves in the face of the enemy as became reputations which each had heretofore bravely won. The latter was severely wounded on the 4th of December, near Murfreesborough, and was succeeded by Major Lash, whose coolness and gallantry was marked. He, together with Brigadier-Generals Jackson and Smith, was captured at Nashville, and are yet in prison. Major Ball having arrived, and being ranking officer present in Finley's brigade, assumed command and conducted it at Nashville.
Captain Beauregard, commanding my artillery, showed merit beyond his years, [and] managed the battalion not only to my satisfaction, but to the good of the service and to his own credit.
I take pleasure in making my acknowledgments for their promptness and gallantry to Maj. Arthur Shaaff, my inspector; Capt. H. J. Cheney, my assistant adjutant-general; Lieuts. R. B. McClure, John B. Pirtle, and Charles B. Regan, of my personal staff; and Capt. W. H. Rhea, paymaster of my division, who participated with us in the fight without obligation to do so; also to Lieutenant Magruder, my ordnance officer. I am also much indebted to my chief surgeon, Doctor McDowell, for his skill and unwearying application to his delicate trust; to Maj. John L. Brown, commissary, for his success in getting up and distributing supplies under most embarrassing circumstances; and Maj. E. P. Tyree, quartermaster, for his promptness, vigilance, and success in managing his department without loss during the long march and hazardous retreat of either wagons or supplies.
My escort company, under Capt. J. H. Buck and Lieut. J. W. Henderson, merits my special commendation for gallantry upon the field and the faithful and cheerful performance of all duty devolving upon them. My excellent pioneer company, under Lieut. H. W. Reddick, labored day and night without murmur, for which they will receive my thanks. My provost-guard was most efficiently managed by Capt. Matthew Dwyer, for which I am under obligations. My squad of sharpshooters (with Whitworth rifles), under Lieut. A. B. Schell, behaved with marked gallantry on every occasion when brought into requisition.
In this report I have dealt more in particulars for the reason there are no reports from brigade commanders, all three of whom having been captured, I reserve to myself the privilege of making such corrections as would appear right and proper when I subsequently have the opportunity to examine their reports.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
WM. B. BATE,
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